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What else could your drive be doing for you?

01 September, 2023

For applications that require basic logic programming, but where a PLC might be overkill, a drive’s adaptive programming function can provide the answer, as Liam Blackshaw, UK product manager for ABB LV Drives, explains.

There’s more to the modern drive than merely starting and stopping a motor. For simple applications they can also take on some limited PLC functions to provide more advanced control.

Adaptive programming is a function that can be used to alter a drive’s performance. It allows you to give the drive an input and manipulate it to provide a certain output. You might want to cause it to trip intentionally, or for it to generate a specific fault or warning under certain conditions. Crucially, adaptive programming allows you to customise the behaviour of your drive and motor to the needs of the application, without having to invest in additional control equipment such as a PLC.

Say, for instance, you have an automatic door that you want to open when a movement sensor is triggered, and for it to stay open for a set amount of time, before closing. Even a simple sequence of events such as this will require a start and a stop, and then a start and stop in the opposite direction. If the movement sensor is triggered while the door is closing, you may also need the motor to change direction rapidly.

To give another example: imagine a winding process in which cable is being wound around a spool. Depending on the tension, the length of the cable, or the amount of cable either already on the spool or still to be wound, you can speed up or slow down the process quickly and easily. At the start of the process, you might want it to wind more quickly, and then slow down as it reaches the end, or slow down when a certain tension is reached to prevent damage. Adaptive programming can achieve this, all using the drive’s in-built functions.

In HVAC applications, you can trigger certain behaviours once certain temperatures are reached, or when filters are dirty. In a mixer, you can program several different recipes, so that Recipe #1 mixes at a certain speed in a certain direction for a certain amount of time, while Recipe #2 triggers a different mixing pattern – and so on.

For more complex programming with a wider range of variables, you may still wish to consider using a PLC, but for simple applications, adaptive programming can allow you to customise your drive’s operation, and get your motor behaving exactly the way you want it to.


Adaptive programming in standard on ABB’s new ACS180 machinery drive. To find out more, visit:

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